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Apple addresses numerous issues with iWork '09 9.0.3 update - Page 2

post #41 of 45
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Originally Posted by michaelab View Post

Not so. The Word format is proprietary, but it is (and always has been) publicly documented by Microsoft here along with all the other Office binary (pre-XML) formats. No reverse engineering required. That's not to say it's easy, but it's certainly possible.

Very much so. Public documentation does not give anyone use permission; if that was the case, everyone would do it. Microsoft understands the power of owning file formats, which is why they protect them so jealously.

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That's irrelevant. Pages can either read the Word format properly or not.

This is very relevant in my experience. Documents with messed up formatting are going to become even more messed up when they are translated, and fixing the mess is going to be far more difficult.

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It's not difficult in Word, but many users never bother to learn how.

And why don't they bother to learn? Because it's difficult. To my best recollection, I have never, once is all my years of dealing with Word documents, ever encountered a single properly formatted document. Not once. Invariably, all of the fonts and tabs and character styles are applied manually and show as "Normal."

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In the specific case I mentioned it was my employer sending me a Word "template" where I had to fill in the required information.

That's always a pain. I've never seen one of these documents formatted properly either.

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Rubbish. Pages could easily save Word files as Word files by default, perhaps warning the user if any unique Pages features would be lost by doing this, much the same way that Office handles the editing and saving of files from older versions of Office or other 3rd party formats (eg CSV and RTF). That wouldn't in any way make it a Word clone.

This is so utterly wrong from every standpoint, I hardly know where to begin. File formats exist for a reason, which is to store the features unique to that software. Exporting should be an explicit action which tells the user that they are risking changing something within the file when they take that action, and requires that it generate a duplicate file and not alter the original. Making an export automatic simply attempts to fool the user into believing that they are getting something that they are not getting, and of course destroys the formatting which is unique to the software without retaining it anywhere. It would be not only terrible human engineering, but also a great way to screw up documents and screw users.

A Save As... or Export... is the right and proper way to handle this operation. If that's too much trouble (a concept which amazes me), they should just stick to Word. I hope they love it, because they will never use anything else.
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post #42 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

Public documentation does not give anyone use permission; if that was the case, everyone would do it. Microsoft understands the power of owning file formats, which is why they protect them so jealously.

The Office binary file format specifications are licensed under the Microsoft Open Specification Promise so Apple can freely use them to implement Office compatibility in iWork without having to do any reverse engineering. Since the formats are fully documented it should be possible to import / export Office docs with little or no loss in formatting, with the exception of features unique to Office or iWork. My (limited) experience of Pages shows the Word compatibility to be so poor as to be almost useless.

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Documents with messed up formatting are going to become even more messed up when they are translated, and fixing the mess is going to be far more difficult.

If the Word import were any good then it shouldn't matter. If the Word document has separate font settings for each paragraph instead of using styles then obviously the imported document will have the same flaws but if the import were good the document would look the same as it does in Word.

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And why don't they bother to learn? Because it's difficult. To my best recollection, I have never, once is all my years of dealing with Word documents, ever encountered a single properly formatted document. Not once. Invariably, all of the fonts and tabs and character styles are applied manually and show as "Normal."

Using styles properly in Word is not difficult at all. People don't learn to use them because they can get away with applying individual formatting and probably don't appreciate (or know about) the benefits of using styles properly. I, for one, always use styles, even in the most simple of documents and most of the Word docs I use professionally are created properly with proper formatting.

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This is so utterly wrong from every standpoint, I hardly know where to begin. File formats exist for a reason, which is to store the features unique to that software. Exporting should be an explicit action which tells the user that they are risking changing something within the file when they take that action, and requires that it generate a duplicate file and not alter the original. Making an export automatic simply attempts to fool the user into believing that they are getting something that they are not getting, and of course destroys the formatting which is unique to the software without retaining it anywhere. It would be not only terrible human engineering, but also a great way to screw up documents and screw users.

Not at all. If you open a CSV file in Excel or an RTF file in Word then "Save" will always save in the original format, allthough you will get a warning (and an opportunity to save to .xls or .doc) if the document contains features that may be lost by saving to such a basic format. Of course each software has it's own format which supports it's unique features, and that should be the default format for new documents, but if software claims to be able to edit files in other formats then it should do just that, and not save by default to its own format. By saving a Word doc automatically as a Pages doc and not a Word doc users will certainly be fooled and often disappointed to find that they thought they were editing a Word document (in an application which claims to be able to do this) but discover that the Word document has not changed at all, and they've instead got a new Pages document that they didn't want.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to ditch Office, and since I got iWork I only create new documents in the iWork formats but if I ditch Office I want to have something that will be able to EDIT my Office docs, not just import them (badly) and then export them (even less well).
post #43 of 45
Your suggestion that Pages' Word compatibility "is so poor as to be almost useless" is overly dramatic. I open Word documents in Pages quite often and find the biggest issue by far to be the invariably badly formatted source Word document. As for the openness of the Word format, I think this is not how it may appear, since if it were indeed open, every word processor would have very accurate Word translation, and we know that this is not the case.

And yes, badly formatted documents are going to have more translation issues than properly formatted documents. Have you never run into a document created by someone who (for instance) didn't seem to understand the concept of tabs? Translation only exacerbates formatting randomness, if only because it can never be perfect. This is my experience.

You insist that style creation in Word is easy. But the evidence suggests otherwise. The "gold standard" for styles handling (IMO) was the late, great WriteNow. I'd never found a word processor that came close to simplifying this process in the same way until I saw Pages. Certainly not Word.

I wouldn't use Microsoft as a model for anything. If we know anything about the differences between Apple and Microsoft, it's that one company cares about basic human engineering issues and the other does not.
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post #44 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

Your suggestion that Pages' Word compatibility "is so poor as to be almost useless" is overly dramatic. I open Word documents in Pages quite often and find the biggest issue by far to be the invariably badly formatted source Word document. As for the openness of the Word format, I think this is not how it may appear, since if it were indeed open, every word processor would have very accurate Word translation, and we know that this is not the case.

And yes, badly formatted documents are going to have more translation issues than properly formatted documents. Have you never run into a document created by someone who (for instance) didn't seem to understand the concept of tabs? Translation only exacerbates formatting randomness, if only because it can never be perfect. This is my experience.

You insist that style creation in Word is easy. But the evidence suggests otherwise. The "gold standard" for styles handling (IMO) was the late, great WriteNow. I'd never found a word processor that came close to simplifying this process in the same way until I saw Pages. Certainly not Word.

I wouldn't use Microsoft as a model for anything. If we know anything about the differences between Apple and Microsoft, it's that one company cares about basic human engineering issues and the other does not.

Okay, I'll weigh in on this a bit. My biggest problem with Pages is trying to take a client's word document and improve it, edit it, and then give it back to them as a word file. There are too many unsupported features in the Pages export to make this doable. My biggest problem in editing client's word documents in Office 2008, and then returning them a word file, is that Mac Word and PC word even have incompatibilities (for example, try to preserve TOC hot links within a document). This leaves me with little other choices when working with client's PC word files...I wind up booting up a VM and using Office 2007, and all problems go away. In my mind this is just disgraceful and stupid.

On word styles, my experience is that most PC users are ignorant that they even exist, and rarely used them correctly, if at all. They are also in the habit of cutting and pasting text from all sorts of sources, and leaving in all kinds of foreign formatting (instead of using Paste as Text, and then applying styles). With documents like that, it's crazy to expect Pages to sort it all out, even though it does a damn good job trying.

The long and short: its a mess.
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post #45 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phoenixstudios View Post

Okay, I'll weigh in on this a bit. My biggest problem with Pages is trying to take a client's word document and improve it, edit it, and then give it back to them as a word file. There are too many unsupported features in the Pages export to make this doable. My biggest problem in editing client's word documents in Office 2008, and then returning them a word file, is that Mac Word and PC word even have incompatibilities (for example, try to preserve TOC hot links within a document). This leaves me with little other choices when working with client's PC word files...I wind up booting up a VM and using Office 2007, and all problems go away. In my mind this is just disgraceful and stupid.

Right. The only way you can half expect perfect translation is by using the same version of Word on the same platform, and having the same fonts installed (not that many Word users bother with fonts other than Arial and Times).

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On word styles, my experience is that most PC users are ignorant that they even exist, and rarely used them correctly, if at all. They are also in the habit of cutting and pasting text from all sorts of sources, and leaving in all kinds of foreign formatting (instead of using Paste as Text, and then applying styles). With documents like that, it's crazy to expect Pages to sort it all out, even though it does a damn good job trying.

The long and short: its a mess.

It sure is but I think the mess is made to seem even greater because we've been conditioned to think that the Word format is standard, and anything else is flawed right from the start, or at least a big pain to deal with. We've also been conditioned to believe that document collaboration requires perfect compatibility. In some cases it might (and if so you know what you need to do). But more often than not one person is actually responsible for the final document production and they are the ones who should worry about formatting. When done the document should be locked down to PDF.
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